To build better futures for undereducated adults by teaching literacy, life and work skills that empower them to reach their highest potential.
To set the standard of excellence in the field of adult basic education and to ultimately eradicate low literacy, a root cause of poverty, in the Atlanta area.
Literacy Action was founded in 1968 by Mary Hammond – a member of Central Presbyterian Church – and operated for 17 years out of the church basement. That year was a particularly defining one for the City of Atlanta due to the assassination of its native son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Laureate in Peace and leader of the non-violent movement for civil rights in the United States. Literacy Action, operating in the shadow of Georgia’s Capitol, was dedicated to ensuring that those citizens who had been denied an adequate education would now have a place to go to learn what they had missed and that low-literate residents of the city would be taught to read.
Over its first 22 years, the organization grew from the founder and volunteers to a staff of more than 25 full- and part-time employees led by Mr. Vern Pulling (1968-1987). Literacy Action pioneered a successful, cost-effective method of group learning based on whole language principles for teaching adults to read. Literacy Action was the first local agency to move from one-on-one tutoring to a classroom model for delivering basic academic skills as well as GED preparation. This cost-effective method of teaching benefited Literacy Action and its students, whose progress could be measured and tracked as in a traditional school. By the early 1990s, Literacy Action had emerged as a leader in the literacy field, locally and nationally, with programs designed to meet the needs of individual adult learners, families, community organizations, and corporations. Literacy Action currently employs the Orton-Gillingham approach, the Labuach method for reading, and other proven instructional methods.
The organization has seen much success and impact in the 2010s: it is a finalist for The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s “Managing for Excellence” Award, a programmatic model for the Southeast, a grantee of the Technical College System of Georgia, and a sought-after training provider. In October, 2012, the organization hired Austin Dickson as its leader. Since that time, the organization has grown – both in staff and in student body.